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Blackhawks' Connor Bedard downplays Josh Manson slash: ‘It was nothing crazy'

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DENVER — Four days ago when the Chicago Blackhawks and Colorado Avalanche last met, which was the featured game on ESPN, the clip of Josh Manson whacking Connor Bedard on the arm that went unpenalized garnered quite the reaction on social media.

The video views of the play were up to 1.7 million as of this writing, with fans and members of the hockey media chiming in with their thoughts on it over the last few days.

On Monday after the team's morning skate in Colorado, Bedard fielded multiple questions on the incident. He seemed half-annoyed and half-amused that it was getting as much attention as it has.

"I guess you take a little whack and everyone thinks they were going after you," Bedard said smiling. "But no, I mean, I think it was kind of the same as every team but obviously they're a loaded team and they make it hard to play. They're fast and they're structured so I think just try to work around that, but no I don't think it was anything crazy."

When pressed whether something like that could motivate him going into Monday's rematch, Bedard chuckled.

"No, no, not at all," Bedard said. "It was nothing. I think maybe cause it was a nationally-televised game people saw the video a little more and made a big deal about it but no it was a love tap that just got me in a spot, so it didn't really matter."

Manson won't be in the lineup for Colorado on Monday due to an injury, so don't expect any sort of carry-over. Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson didn't seem to think there would be regardless.

"I don't think there's going to be any repercussions for that," Richardson said. "We're here to win the game and we try to play hard against everybody. I think it just went unnoticed in the game. It was subtle; I didn't see it in the game until I saw it on video. Connor was OK and it would probably be a little different if someone's not OK.

"There's always those games within the games, and I think Connor will learn those, as well, and try and steer clear of some of those guys like Manson and make them pay on the scoresheet sometimes."

Richardson joked that a play like that was considered "mild" back in his playing days.

"Usually those things festered a little bit more in the older days," Richardson said. "Now, it's all business about winning the games. There's guys that will definitely react that way when there's something very blatant, but most guys missed it, it was kinda sneaky, he snuck that in without anybody seeing it."

While the play itself has probably been overblown, I think it's fair to say that if it wasn't Bedard, Manson probably doesn't think twice about doing something like that. But Bedard is a rookie and Chicago's best player, so of course Manson is going to do everything in his power to try getting under his skin.

To a lesser degree, it happened with Columbus on Saturday as well when Mathieu Olivier shoved Bedard into Erik Gudbranson on Ryan Donato's goal. It was nothing malicious, but that's the respect Bedard is getting from opponents who are focusing their attention on him.

"He's all business," Richardson said. "There's some nights where he gets frustrated when he's not scoring or if he misses a chance. There's a couple times even last game against Colorado where [Bowen] Byram gave him a little tug on his jersey to hold him from backchecking and he gave him a little whack on the shinpads, so we just talked about not showing that emotion to the other team.

"It's great to have emotion and use that to motivate yourself, but don't let the other team know they're getting to you. Show no emotion and then let them be frustrated that they can't get to you."

That's something Bedard's childhood idol Sidney Crosby has gotten unbelievably good at over the course of his career. It's easy to find clips of Crosby in his early days complaining to the referees a lot and jawing back and forth with opponents, etc.

But as he got older, Crosby realized it was wasted energy and he became unreal at shrugging off stuff like that, almost to a point where he wouldn't even acknowledge his opponent. Just rewatch those Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup runs in 2016 and 2017 and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Bedard will probably learn that over the course of time, too. But because he gets so much attention every night and is under microscope as an 18-year-old rookie, it's no surprise the Manson play is still being talked about as the two teams get ready to meet again.

"Yeah, I think there's probably 100 examples like you go to for things getting kind of blown out of proportion," Bedard said. "I didn't really think anything of it the rest of the game. I don't think either of us woke up and were like concerned about it or anything like that, so yeah, it was nothing crazy. I don't know, people just love to talk about it for some reason."

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